Self-ish
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Self-ish

Self-ish is Back!

History, updates, purpose, and the way forward.

“white neon light signage” by John Baker on Unsplash

“If you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, then you don’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong.”
― Terry Pratchett

Two years ago, we bonded over what seemed to be the worst time in our lives. She was in Senegal, I was in Cameroon. She was the sister I needed, I was the friend she wanted.

We laughed, cried and shared secrets, joy, pain, and dreams. We fell in love with each other, with our humanity, our fears and our desire for more. We wrote to each other. We found Medium. We found podcasts. We found Gary Vaynerchuk. We found Myliek Teele.

We held each other through breakups, through depression, through love and loss, through identity crises, through restarting and rediscovering ourselves.

We had the idea that we could have a place on the internet where we would document our transformation. Where we could write to each other and have the world read. Where we could track our growth, share our lessons and let the world connect to our new selves.

We had forgotten who we were. We had found each other, through others and each other — I found myself, she found her.

We founded Self-ish, our baby.

We wrote personal stories. Stories we would never want our family to read. We wrote about love. About loss. About pain. About depression. About living and working in Africa. About entrepreneurship. About the podcasts and books, we read.

About the dreams we killed and how the world was silent when we died.

We became our own heroes. We saved each other. And from what we found, we saved others.

She was in Senegal. I was in Cameroon. We met once in Douala. We still loved each other.

We became better, stronger, fond of each other. With our new lives, we had new challenges. Our baby grew, so did we.

As naturally as our link was forged, it had to be tested.

“If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it is yours. If it doesn’t, it never was.”
— Unknown

We fought. I failed her. She was hurt. We roamed. Talked occasionally. Continued on the momentum of our growth. Wrote less and did more. She moved, got another job, had her own baby. I switched jobs. Moved towns.

We were free. We were in pain — the kind that goes in hand with wisdom teeth. What we didn’t know was how much we missed each other and how this baby had changed us, forever.

I held on to the baby. The purpose for which we created it was noble and selfish. We documented our growth, became more, grew apart and left the boat to carry on as we swam to new horizons.

But…the flame didn’t burn out.

“A bridge of silver wings stretches from the dead ashes of an unforgiving nightmare to the jeweled vision of a life started anew.”
― Aberjhani, Journey through the Power of the Rainbow

When was the last time you read a story or watched a movie that rocked your whole existence? When was the last time you saw yourself in another person’s narrative and felt represented? When was the last time you turned on the TV and saw someone who looked like you, someone who lived like you, and who was doing something you never thought you could do?

When was the last time your assumptions and prejudices were blown away?

I have always had mentors in the people I followed online. I fell in love with books because the adults in my life didn’t give me answers I was satisfied with. Even now, I trust books more than people. Even though people write books.

This is why I feel a special kind of pride when I read Behold The Dreamers. Or why all my friends who are writers or editors have a special place in my heart.

I cannot, for the life of me, not be reminded of the importance of telling our own stories.

When C. Befoune and I started this publication, we did it because we found the strength to grow, through others — podcasts, articles and more. We told our stories and shared our nuggets. We outgrew this stage of our sharing, but never outgrew growing.

Does that even make sense?

We never stopped growing.

Even now, we still test each other and count on each other like the siblings that we are. She remains my very good friend and I don’t know how my world would be without her in it.

Today, this publication is no longer geared towards just the two of us. After a year of searching for the right time and team and vision, we realized that there would never be any of those except what we already had:

the need to tell relevant, important stories.

Who then defines what is relevant and important?Who decides which stories get told? Which lessons get learned and which voices get heard?

Well, as an African immigrant now living in the USA, I have the privilege to see the differences between Cameroon, where I was born, and where I now live.

I’ve talked with many people my age and younger. I’ve consumed enough content to see the stark differences and glean the big issues that stifle the growth of every single person on the continent.

It is my strongly held opinion, that many of the assumptions we have about other countries and people stop us from growing.

I have had my views about the homeless transformed after a peek at the Justice system. I now know why bribery and corruption is killing us in Africa.

My brother-in-law, barely nineteen years old, has a tremendously rich mindset compared to me at his age. I wish I could think and see the world the way he does. I wish we all, in Africa, could see how each person could be the change the community and the nation needs .

If you don’t know someone’s story, you may miss a world of wonders and glory.

This, is where we are. This is where Self-ish is steering towards.

This dawn would never be possible without the diligence, heart and work ethic of Ameaka who now serves as the lead editor.

We met just last year, but it seems I have known her forever. She and Bate-Epey Ebai Tarkang kept this boat afloat: ideas, conversations, changes, edits, while I grew in a different direction.

Without these two, you would not be reading this now. You would not be able to read the stories — the black stories — from the continent I love.

The stories you will now find are written by the people who have lived them.

They will do their best to keep the authenticity C. Befoune and I swore by, and they will always — always — strive to give you a glimpse of a world you may never know existed.

I am proud to be able to take a step back from our baby and watch Ameaka take the reins and build a place where you, dear reader, can find stories by people who may never find a place to tell them.

And that you, dear African child, can tell those stories the world longs to read. Stories about love, and loss, about work, about growing-up, about parenting, about learning, about money. About mental health. About more.

After all the submissions we’ve received, I’m more than elated to let you know that Self-ish is back!

Trust me on this, you want to be here when the gates open.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

— Alice in Wonderland

Let’s begin then.

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Kamga Tchassa

Kamga Tchassa

I write for immigrants (and people who would love to understand them) about how to adapt, build relationships, and thrive through the challenges of a new home.